Drone Laws in Canada
November 5, 2021
Wondering if you can use a drone in Canada? You will require more than just a Basic Drone Certificate, so check out this informative guide to know more.

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Drone Laws In Canada


Wondering if you can use a drone in Canada? You will require more than just a Basic Drone Certificate, so check out this informative guide to know more.



The job of drone pilots may sound exciting, but it requires a fair share of qualifications and experience. Considering how flying drones can be risky and illegal in some cities, not many know how to get started. Thus, in this blog post, you will find detailed information about drone laws in Canada.

From the required certification to the rules to abide by- we’ll ensure that you fly your drone safely, confidently, and legally!



Transport Canada Civil Aviation is the regulatory body for all modes of transportation in the country. You will be allowed to fly a drone in Canada as long as you do so according to the regulations laid by the agency. You will be required to pass the exam conducted by the body for flying drones legally.

Updated Drone Laws In Canada

Technically, drones (a.k.a. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) are aircraft… just a lot smaller. While flying drones, you are a part of the commotion up there, among other drones and airplanes. Hence, maintaining safety and following the legal rules is crucial.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the new Canada Drone Laws-


Legal Requirements For Drone Pilots

Going through the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), specifically, Part IX – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, is a must for aspiring drone pilots. It lists down all the rules that govern drone flying.

Moreover, it is mandatory to carry a valid drone pilot certificate while operating drones. The certificate must be an electronic document or, in printed form, issued by Transport Canada. Drone pilots should also ensure that the drones are marked and registered.

On the other hand, if you’re operating a drone, weighing less than 250 grams, you do not require any certification or registration. Further, if you are a member of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) and meet the conditions in Exemption NCR-011-2019, you may be exempted from the regulations set in Part IX.

Finally, here are some more points to note before flying drones for the first time-

  • Read the Criminal Code, with the most crucial sections being Offences against Air or Maritime Safety, Breaking and Entering, and Mischief.
  • Check the trespass act of your city/province, and laws for privacy and voyeurism.
  • Respect others’ right to privacy when flying a drone.
  • Transport Canada Civil Aviation reserves the right to involve the local police and investigate the unsafe flying of drones in Canada.


drone gear assortment laid out

Drone Safety

By operating a drone safely, you can ensure the safety of others around you. Let’s take a look at some safety measures required while flying drones in Canada.

Are You Allowed To Fly A Drone In Canada?

If your drone weighs anywhere between 250 grams and 25 kilograms, you must obtain a drone pilot license before flying a drone. However, you must be at least 14 years old to obtain a basic license, and 16 years old to upgrade it to an advanced level.

Anyone younger than 14 years of age who wishes to indulge in recreational drone use must be supervised by a license-holder. Hence, such activities among younger teenagers are only allowed in camps, youth groups, and clubs.


Prerequisites For Flying A Drone In Canada

  • Check the legal requirements before you fly your drone, and know the difference between Basic and Advanced operations.
  • Acquire the TP15263 knowledge requirements for a drone (remotely piloted aircraft system) pilot and obtain the drone pilot certificate.
  • Choose a suitable drone and get it registered.
  • Don’t forget to check the drone manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure that you fly your drone in one of the approved operations only, and check for obstacles like buildings, pillars, etc.
  • For conducting advanced operations in controlled airspace, you must acquire RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA.

Where Can You Fly A Drone?

Here’s an exhaustive list of places where you can fly drones in a safe and responsible manner-

  • below the height of 400 ft./122 meters
  • away from advertised or emergency operations like concerts, forest fires, etc.
  • 5.6 km (3 nautical miles) away from airports and 1.9 km (1 nautical mile) away from heliports
  • at least 30 meters away from bystanders while conducting basic operations
  • away from other aircraft
  • outside controlled airspace (basic operations)

And last but not least, fly your drone where it is comfortably visible to you at all times. However, you must also avoid the Terminal Control Area near large airports with heavy traffic if you’re carrying a basic certificate.


The rules governed by Transport Canada and enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ensure strict implications for individuals and corporations that break drone laws in Canada. Some of the actions that can lead to serious penalties are as follows-

  • flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • posing a threat to any type of aircraft and people in the vicinity
  • flying and operating unregistered or unmarked drones

Note that breaking more than one rule can result in multiple penalties and even jail time.

Canada Drone Laws For Foreign Operators

A foreign operator is one who is not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a corporation working for provincial or federal bodies, but wants to fly a drone in Canada. Such individuals must be certified and registered to fly drones in their home country.

Moreover, they must bear an approved Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for any drone flying. Consequently, they must include their country’s authorization to apply for the SFOC.

Basic Drone Flying In Canada

Canada Drone Laws do not specify a clear distinction between professional and recreational drone use. However, there are different rules for pilots conducting basic and advanced operations. Note that the aforementioned rules apply to all kinds of operations, and the following rules are differentiated based on the type of operation.

Pilots Conducting Basic Operations

If you fly a drone in uncontrolled airspace, horizontally 30 metres away from bystanders, you’re conducting basic operations. However, you must not fly it over any bystander. Not meeting any one of these conditions will place you in an advanced drone operation.

Rules For Basic Operations

  • Get your drone registered by Transport Canada and mark it with the registration number.
  • Qualify the Small Basic Exam.
  • Acquire your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and registration proof.

Commercial Drone Flying In Canada

Since commercial drone use includes both basic and advanced operations, the rules are consistent for both commercial and recreational operations.  Examples of commercial operations include photography and videography, remote sensing, home inspection, and much more.

Here are the general rules that apply to all drone pilots-

  • All drones between 250 g to 25 kg in weight must be registered by Transport Canada.
  • Pilots must bear a drone pilot certificate and mark their drones with the registration number.
  • The drone must be visible at all times and should never fly over 122 metres in the air.
  • The drone must be operated away from other aircraft.
  • Drone pilots must avoid flying near emergency sites and advertised events.
  • They must maintain a distance of at least 30 metres from bystanders.
  • They must respect everyone else’s right to privacy.

Besides these rules, drone pilots must follow other conditions according to the type of operation.

Pilots Conducting Advanced Operations

Advanced drone operations include flying in controlled airspace not over bystanders while maintaining a horizontal distance of 30 metres. If bystanders are to be flown over, the drone must be equipped with a parachute and have a safety declaration allowing such operation.

Rules For Advanced Drone Operations

  • Register your drone from Transport Canada and mark it with the registration number.
  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam.
  • Pass an in-person flight review with a flight reviewer.
  • Get permitted by NAV CANADA to fly in controlled Canadian airspace.
  • Carry your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and registration proof every time you operate drones.
  • Ensure that your drone flies within the operational limits only.
  • The drone must meet the safety declaration requirements for the respective operations.

Important Terms

Once you acquire a valid drone pilot certificate and want to pursue drone flying as a career, you must know certain jargon.

1. Bystander

Everyone excluding the pilot and the crew should be known as a bystander. In simpler terms, they are people who are not a direct part of the drone operation.

2. Visual-line-of-sight (VLOS)

As mentioned earlier, your drone should be visible to you at all times. This implies it should be within the visual line of sight without you requiring any visual aid like binoculars. Hence, even partial obstructions like trees and buildings should be avoided.

3. Drone and Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

The words “drone” and “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)” are often used interchangeably. However, there are multiple other terms for this technology such as UAV or UAS.

Final Thoughts

Performing drone operations is more than just capturing cool aerial shots! Hence, you must become a certified drone pilot and get your drone registered before flying it.

And if you’re wondering where and how to get started, look no further. Check out Coastal Drone’s online training programs that will help you pass Transport Canada’s exam with flying colours.

So, what are you waiting for? Enroll now and get ready to take off!

Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.


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